The Canadian government has introduced two long-expected bills that would legalize recreational marijuana across the country by next July.
“Despite decades of criminal prohibition, Canadians – including 21% of our youth and 30% of young adults – continue to use cannabis at among the highest rates in the world,” said MP and former Toronto police chief Bill Blair. “The proposed legislation, which is introduced today, seeks to legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis.”
The responsibilities of legalization would be divided between state and local governments. The federal government would regulate the production of marijuana, licensing providers and imposing safety regulations, while each Canadian province will make the decision on how the drug will be distributed and sold within that province. The bills stipulate that buyers must be at least 18, but provinces may increase that age limit if they wish.
The bills would allow any Canadian to grow up to four cannabis plants, and carry up to 30 grams of dried bud. Dried and fresh cannabis, as well as cannabis oil, would be legalized starting in July, with edibles and other products to be approved later. The bills propose strict guidelines regarding marketing, banning endorsements and requiring childproof packaging. The bills do not, however, cover the pricing or taxation of the drug, which will be revealed later in the year.
Although the introduction of these bills is exciting news for marijuana lovers, the legislation is still in its early days. Every detail of the bills must be discussed in parliamentary committees, and the federal government must negotiate the legislation with each of the country's provinces. There is some concern that these debates will delay the start date of legalization, possibly pushing it back as far as 2019.